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To examine if the use of heat at home can result in better quality and safer mobility in the elderly with gait and balance impairments.

Setting: Randomized longitudinal cross over study design in a clinical setting.

Methods: 20 people with impaired mobility (assessed as a score of more than 4 on the Stepping On questionnaire) were tested with a multi-camera gait analysis system, a treadmill with pressure sensors, a balance platform and the timed up and go and walking speed tests before and after using ThermaCare continuous heat wraps on their legs and knees for 6 days at 4 hours per day. The loss in mobility could not be due to pain killers or other drugs that reduced mobility.

Results: Muscle tremor was reduced, mobility of the joints was improved, balance was significantly improved, and gait was improved after 6 sessions of heat application on the legs. As per the literature, this should reduce the chance of falls in this population.

Conclusion: Using continuous heat wraps may be an important adjunct for improving gait in the elderly with gait impairments.

Publisher's Statement

Originally published in the Journal of Physiotherapy & Physical Rehabilitation, 1(1) [Article 1000105]. Licensed under CC BY. This material can be found here.